Earlier this month ICE, the
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency issued 652 notices to employers
of their intent to audit hiring records to determine compliance with federal
laws requiring employer verification of employment authorization. In one day ICE
issued more inspection notices than the total completed during the entire
previous fiscal year. Employers were selected based on tips and information
gathered in other investigations. ICE hasn’t announced a list of targets but
did publicize the effort in a press release picked up by a wide variety of news
This information could
launch your own check of current I-9 processes. Don’t be alarmed if the form
you are using is clearly marked in the top right hand corner, “OMB No.
correct form, “Rev. 02/02/09. The revision date can be found on the “lower
right hand corner” of the form. No previous editions accepted. *NOTE: The
its current expiration date of
Start your audit by
comparing a list of current employees to the I-9s you have to make certain that
one is completed for each person. If a form is missing, check employee files
and misfiling. If this doesn’t turn up the errant item contact the employee and
request completion of a new I-9. Never request specific documents or backdate
forms. Include the current dates and a notation that it was completed after an
audit. ICE is seeking to focus on employers who hire illegal immigrants; they
will be more understanding of paperwork errors than willful violations. Audits
and corrections go a long way to establish your good faith efforts to comply
with the law.
For previously completed
forms look for missing and incorrect information. Make corrections and
notations in the appropriate spots. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offers
a complete Handbook for Employers with step by step instructions for I-9
completion including copies of sample documents for verification.
The individuals who actually
sign the form on behalf of the employer should be the ones inspecting these
documents. They must be well trained in the entire process. Too often I have
conducted audits where the only person in an organization, if anyone, that
really understands the process is a senior HR professional who is not
responsible for day to day administration. Forms are completed in multiple
locations with varying degrees of compliance.
Setting up and maintaining
effective I-9 processing and storage will save headaches, time and the
potential for an ICE audit disaster.